Wednesday, January 25, 2012

God loves Texas again!

Yes, the last 18 hours has shown that God once again loves Texas! Why, you ask, would I say such a thing? This is why--LOOK!

Yes! RAIN! At last it is raining in North Texas! Sweet, beautiful, life-giving RAIN! Much of it is falling in the Lavon Watershed, which is a major source of water for my area. Lavon has been drained so low by last year's drought, that there is worry this year if we do not see an significant increase in rainfall, that the cities will be forced to completely restrict outdoor watering, and levy HEAVY fines against violators (like $2500 per offense), and even fine you based on your water bill usage!

Lake Texoma, another major water source, is similarly low. When we camped there in November with the Scouts, the water was so low, you had to walk over a quarter mile from shore to get to the water. Add to it, that some bugger-eating moron dumped their boat's filthy zebra-mussel contaminated bilge water into the lake, and now the water pipeline is plugged with zebra mussels. Science still doesn't know how to safely kill those demon-spawn, without harming everything else in the lake.

The rain started last evening, just as Dave got home from work, and it hasn't stopped yet. Nearby gauges register 4" or more, and the NWS storm totals show almost 11". I don't know about 11" here, but I'd suspect more like 5-6" by now. It really has been raining for almost 18hrs straight.

To paraphrase Oliver Twist,
"Just picture a great big storm--
Rain, lightning and thunder.
Oh, rain,
Wonderful rain,
Marvellous rain,
Glorious rain!

Or even better, thanks to, we have the great Gene Kelley.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Southern Nuances

Living in the South now for the last 9 years, I have begun to appreciate the nuances of English as spoken in the South. Words and phrases are just used differently here, than in the Midwest where I grew up. Though in Kansas, one sort of grows up hearing Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern English. Still it takes time to get used to the changes, and for some of them to become part of my normal speech patterns.

Fixin' to: If you are Fixin To..., it means you are getting ready to do something.
Y'all or Y'alls (possessive form of Y'all): This one is fairly obvious, "You All".
Tank: farm pond.
Bar Ditch: The ditch beside the road.
Hissy Fit: a temper tantrum.

There are more of course, but perhaps the new favorite, is one with a dual meaning. I'm referring to the classic Southern phrase, "Why Bless Your Heart!" On the one hand it means just what it says--and connotes a feeling of sympathy and perhaps sorrow for the recipient, and a subtle request for the Lord to bless the heart of said recipient.

Now, as a cyclist, (you knew I'd work the biking thing in somehow!) one generally encounters polite to indifferent drivers. So long as they don't endanger me, I don't mind their indifference. However driver inattention is a serious issue. Cellphones and GPS's are a major culprit in this problem, but at least they are not activly seeking to cause harm. This brings me to the last category of driver--there are many names for them, none suited for polite company. These folks are the ones who deliberately crowd cyclists instead of passing safely to their left, the ones who yell incoherent rude-sounding slurs at cyclists, and some even throw things at cyclists.

Which brings me to last night's ride, and the alternate meaning behind Bless Your Heart....I was on a residential side street (I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say I was following the traffic laws), when at a stop sign, a truck decided it was funny to throw a cup of ice at me. Now it didn't harm me, as I was stopped for the sign, but it did startle me, which had I been rolling, could have caused an accident. Immediately, I wanted to curse the truck, but instead, remembered the Bless Your Heart phrase, and it's other see, here in Texas, and in the South, Bless Your Heart is something polite you can say, when you really want to call someone a scrofulous toad-sucking moron with delusions of grandeur! So instead of shouting rude names at the truck, and showing them the #1 salute, I merely shouted, Why Bless Your Heart! and waved wildly at them.

I felt better anyway...and remember, there will be a test later on this!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Winds of Texas are upon us...

Yes, yesterday was a windy day here in NTX. 20-30mph steady out of the south. As I had a chance to ride in the afternoon, and it being the 3rd day in a row for a ride, I asked if Dave & the Monkeys would consent to picking me up, somewhere up North, when I got tired of riding. They agreed, and off I went. My goal was to get over to HWY 289, and run it as far as I could before dark. My mistake was in not making a beeline for Hwy 289, and instead I scooted out the usual roads we ride, and crabbed WSW on 455 into the winds for several miles. It took a lot more energy than I expected, fighting the wind at that time. Maybe it was just a mental thing, I don't know, but I think I would have done better riding 1461 due west to Hwy 289 instead of the path I took. But since I had told Dave the planned route, I did not want to deviate from it, lest it cause him concern.

Here is my route:

The temps were nice enough, and I was suitably dressed. At times I got a bit warm, but never too hot. Had I worn less, like Dave is prone to do, I would've frozen. He & I thermoregulate VERY differently!

Once I got to Hwy 289 I got my tailwinds on a great road. Wide shoulders, and reasonably smooth chip 'n seal surface. I was doing a passable impression of a fast rider there, with cruising speeds 18+ over a lot of it. My downhill tailwind max was 35.3mph which is the fastest I have gone on a bike in a LOOOOONG time! Not that fast since either CANDISC 1996, or one of my rides down Baldwin Hill...both of which were on the MASI, and hit the low 40's on speed.

In Gunter I called Dave and told him I was going to continue north on 289, but that he should start my way with the van. I had been eating powerbars, but was getting a bit tired, or so I thought.

I made it to Dorchester, which is not much more than a blinking yellow light at the crossroads, and soon had another rider in my mirror...oh great I thought, a RickyRacer roadie....but no! It was a roadie, yes, but a wonderfully pleasant gentleman, named Pastor Allen! He said he had been chasing me since Gunter! We started talking and the speed picked up, and the tiredness fled, and I had a great time riding with him.

As we were making good time, and he was stopping in Pottsboro, I decided I would quit in Pottsboro too, and wait for Dave if he had not caught up to me by then. That way I would have a secure place to wait, and call Dave from, so he could find me easily. Also as it was nearing dark I didn't wish to be out then as I had minimal night lighting with me.

Luck would have it, Dave caught up to Allen and I about 6mi short of the end. He honked and pulled over in front a ways, and I stopped, after confirming to Allen that this was my ride home. I waved goodbye and wished Allen well.

It was a lovely ride yesterday--almost 47mi in 3:14hrs. Avg speed was 14.1mph (tailwind enhanced), and I felt great. And to top it off, the scale said 167.4 when I got home! (it was still below 170# this morning too! YAY!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A short chilly ride at night

I haven't worked out a lot this week. Seems time and other committments and the weather (cold) conspired to keep me indoors. So this evening I decided I was going riding anyway.

It was about 44deg out and no wind. That in itself was enough of a rarity that I felt compelled to ride. The wind never seems to stop, here in DFW.

We had recently acquired a little Garmin Edge 305 for cycling, so I strapped on the heart rate monitor, and Dave set up a profile for me. The HRM was picking up fine, and since my Vrex doesn't have a Garmin speed/cadence sensor, I wasn't expecting to see data in some of the main screen fields. Away I went.

I decided since it was not a good idea for me to do a Tabata style of interval (8 sets of sprints in a big gear for 20 seconds each, separated by 10 seconds of recovery each set), that I would instead concentrate on upping my cadence. Since turnover (of the pedals) ultimately equals speed even in an easier gear, I am hoping to increase my average cadence to 85-90rpm, instead of 70-80rpm.

I did several intervals of this, spinning up into a higher gear as the cadence got high enough. This way I did not overload my knees (a weak point in my body's drivetrain). It was a lot more work than I expected! I confess I tend to tool along at a slower cadence than maybe I am capable of, and then whine about being too slow...I guess I need to put up or shut up!

The ride itself was uneventful. I tried to spot the traffic sensors at my worst stoplights, but no success. There are no wires cut into the surface that I could find. I ended up with 12.6mi in 70min. Not bad, but a bit slower over all than normal. I think that has to do with slowing down for the recovery phases on the intervals I did. If you are interested, you can follow my rides on where I am Vic MD there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Working on improving the engine...

Since I wish to go faster on my Vrex recumbent bicycle, and lose more weight, and tone muscle, I decided it might be beneficial to do some strength exercises--not just ride and walk.  Running is out for me--I've never enjoyed it, my right knee hates it, and so do other parts down south, esp. after birthing 3 Monkeys. 

I downloaded a few related android apps to my phone to assist with this.  But working out alone has never been my strong point except on the bike.  So motivation has been iffy.  But yesterday I decided to try again, in hopes of increasing my average speed on the bike through some strength work (improving the 'engine', ME).  Here is the app I used today:  Daily Butt Workout . I did the 10min workout today, using a single 25# weight when I could, but not on all the weighted exercises shown--My knees are not yet ready for weighted lunges or side lunges, period!  This workout was nowhere near as simple as it looks!  I have their whole array of apps, plus a different company's push ups app.  The Daily workout brand apps are nice in that they are designed for women, are exhibited by women, and don't over tax me on time necessary. 

My goal now is to simply do one of the Daily workouts 4 days a week.  Arms, legs, butt and abs.  I want to try to do this for all of 2012.  I don't know if I will keep that motivation, but if I start seeing speed increases on the bike, I know my motivation will last longer.  See, the faster I go, the more time I have 'in the bank' for any randonneuring rides I care to attempt!  More on randoneurring in another blog...

Monday, January 9, 2012

New year, new blog!

DH first decided he wanted a new blog, to document his ongoing progress in weight loss, and control of his diabetes.  We still have our other blog, for family and friends, where we detail the exploits of the 3 Monkeys, the one.

This however is mine.  I intend to document mostly my thoughts on my own weight loss journey, and adventures in cycling, especially randonneuring as I work toward my first completed brevet (200k) and the title, Randonneuse.   Of course there will be other things going on here too.  It just depends on how the mood strikes me.

All for now,